Yoo-hoo? Are you muggles snooping around here looking for magical locations to visit in the UK? If so, you’re at the right place.
This article is for diehard Potterheads who live in the UK or are visiting the UK. Granted, there are plenty of fun things to do in London alone. But if you are a fan of the wizarding world, you must set aside some time to visit these Harry Potter locations in the UK.
JK Rowling spent most of her life in London and Edinburgh and many familiar places in the Harry Potter universe were inspired by actual locations in these two cities.
So, hop on board our Hogwarts express! We’re about to embark on our own magical journey across London and Scotland.
Stop 1: A flat in Clapham Junction, London
According to JK Rowling, the true birthplace of Harry Potter is a small, one bedroom flat in Clapham junction London where she was living at the time
We’re sure you’ve come across some of the many cock-and-bull stories floating around about Harry Potter‘s origin and inspirations. Sorry to be the bearers of bad news but almost all of them are made up by tour guides looking to make a quick buck.
This “tragic” revelation doesn’t mean you should throw your hands up in the air and refuse to go on Harry Potter tours. Au contraire, we can vouch that guided Harry Potter walking tours can be fun and entertaining. Most of these guides know their stuff. They’ll regale you with fun facts, book references, filming locations and other interesting nuggets of information about Harry Potter.
Stop 2: Platform 9 ¾
Probably the most popular of all Harry Potter locations in London, King’s Cross Station’s fake platform 9 ¾ often sees scores of fans queuing up to take pictures next to the luggage trolley and our favourite snowy white owl Hedwig. This may seem like a tourist trap but it’s well worth it and entirely free!
It can get crowded up there. So, get there as early as possible during or go during off-peak hours to avoid wasting your time in insanely long queues.
If you’re opposed to going all the way just for the photo op, you should know that the platform also has a wonderful Harry Potter shop filled with literally everything a Potterhead would want including wands, scarves, books and clothes. The shop is open every day from 9 AM to 7 PM.
Stop 3: Harry Potter Studio Tour
Ever wondered what it would feel like to be in the Great Hall, the Forbidden Forest or Diagon Alley? Well, you don’t have to wonder if you’re in London. Most of the filming locations for the Harry Potter franchise were created in the Warner Bros. studio in London. Luckily for us fans, the studio was converted into a walk-through exhibition after all the films were completed. It is now open to tourists all year round.
From the moment you walk in, you know there is something extraordinary about this place. Nothing quite like walking around the place that brought your beloved fantasy books to life.
The studio is home to the original sets of the Great Hall, the Forbidden Forest, Diagon alley and Platform 9 ¾. Entering the Great Hall will leave you tingling with excitement at the memory of Harry, Hermione and Ron being sorted into Gryffindor. Your brain could almost melt with exhilaration.
You’ll also walk past authentic props used for the films as well as original costumes worn by the actors.-Quidditch costumes, Yule ball and 19 years later costumes to name a few. There is an outdoor area that displays larger props and sets like the Knight Bus, bridge etc.
Beyond the props and costumes, you’ll also get to watch videos of special and creature effects used by the crew while producing the films. For example, you can see how the teams were able to make Harry and his friends fly, how magical creatures like the Basilisk and the Hippogriff were brought to life etc.
The visit is chock-full of interesting tidbits about Harry Potter. Did you know that the door with the slithering snakes in the Chamber of Secrets is a fully functional door powered by an electric motor attached behind the door? We had no idea!
If you get thirsty, the Backlot cafe sells delicious butter beer at just 2.95 GBP (delicious is a matter of perspective. Many actually find it disgusting) and the gift shop sells packets of Bertie Bott’s every flavour beans and replicas of the wands used in the films (overpriced but they make for good souvenirs).
All in all, we believe this Harry Potter attraction is worth every penny you pay and then some more.
Stop 4: Leadenhall Market
Potter fans can leave the real world behind here and enter their favourite fantasy world without swishing or flicking wands. Why do we say that? This is the filming location of Diagon Alley in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone and well worth a visit.
Wander through the market and explore every nook and cranny. While strolling around, you’ll surely come cross “the Leaky Cauldron“ which is actually an optician‘s shop.
Leadenhall Market is an interesting place even for those who are not Harry Potter fans. It’s a covered yet airy market with quaint little shops, boutiques and cafés.
The market is vibrant and buzzing with activity on weekdays . It dates back to the 14th century and is in the heart of the city of London. Ostentatious and Victorian, the market is painted in rich shades of red, green and gold. If you want to take beautiful photographs, we’d recommend going on a weekend as the market can get crowded on weekdays.
Stop 5: Piccadilly Circus
Getting to the next stop might involve some dizziness, nausea and vomiting. We have to disapparate to Picadilly Circus just like Harry, Hermione and Ron in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part one after the attack on Bill and Fleur’s wedding.
Let’s hope our visit won’t be as perilous or touch-and-go as theirs was! If you choose to linger around and take in all the action at Picadilly Circus, lose the death eaters first!
Once you’ve had your fill of this area, proceed to Shaftesbury Avenue where Hermione realises that they forgot to celebrate Harry’s birthday. In the harry potter books, the trio disapparate to Tottenham Court Road and not Picadilly Circus
Stop 6: London Zoo Reptile House
Do you remember Harry’s first conversation with a snake? It was on Dudley‘s 11th birthday when the Dursley family visited the London zoo. The scene with the snake where the glass disappears was filmed in the London zoo’s reptile house. Pop in if you have time. Otherwise, skip it!
Stop 7: Westminster Tube Station
Our next stop is the Westminster tube station where dear old Arthur Weasley has a difficult run-in with the turnstiles and struggles to use the Oyster card on their way to the ministry of magic. Ingenious these muggles, indeed! Did you know that they closed the entire station to the general public when this particular scene was being filmed?
Stop 8- Lambeth Bridge
Do you remember that scene in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, where the Knight Bus is seen squeezing between two other oncoming buses as it drives over a bridge. This scene was filmed on Lambeth Bridge. The bridge itself was constructed in 1932 to replace an older suspension bridge.
Stop 9- Claremont Square
Number 12 Grimmauld Place served as the residence of the Black Family for generations. It is completely invisible to anyone who does not know of its existence as it is protected by the Fidelius charm. Sadly, this also means than muggles like us can only see 11 and 13. But let’s not give up without giving the old college try.
The house used as 12 Grimmauld Place in the films Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is just a stone’s throw away from King’s Cross Station in the borough of Islington. The address is 23-29 Claremont Square.
Stop 10- Australia House
Are you out of money yet? If you are, fret not! Our next stop is Gringotts. The scenes that take place inside the Gringotts were shot inside Australia House. Much to our regret, it isn’t open to us muggles. However, you can sneak a look through the glass doors on weekdays to see the stunning marble interiors.
Stop 11- Jacobite Steam Train
Belonging to the West Coast Railways, the Jacobite steam train is extra special to Harry Potter fans. Its beautiful coaches were used to film the Hogwarts Express taking Harry and his friends to Hogsmeade station from King’s Cross. Interestingly enough, you can actually ride it!
Most shots involving the Hogwarts Express were filmed in Scotland. The setting for Hogsmeade train station was the Goathland station in rural Scotland. In addition, the scene where Harry and Ron are in the flying car trying to catch up with the Hogwarts express was filmed on the Glennfinnan viaduct.
Described as one of the most spectacular railway journeys on the planet, the Jacobite’s 135 kilometer round trip takes place on a lovely vintage steam train. The train has been operating since 1954 and runs from Fort William to Mallaig in Scotland. It passes through the lovely villages of Glenfinnan, Lochailort, Arisaig, and Morar before reaching in the port town of Mallaig.
Everything about this train experience is wonderful! The choo choo sound, the chug-a-chug rhythm and the old-world feel will transport you back to a different time period.
The journey itself is magical and takes you through some breathtaking scenery. You’ll pass through lush forests, mountains and lochs as the train chugs along and billows smoke past your windows. When you reach the Glenfinnan viaduct, the train slows down giving you ample time to get some fantastic photographs.
We recommending travelling first class. Resembling old-fashioned living rooms with grand chairs and ornate lamps, the sheer splendour of the first class coaches will wow you! The first class coaches also have a stronger resemblance to the Hogwarts Express coaches. You’ll also be served tea of coffee from a trolley. If possible, book your seats on the left side of the coach as they offer the best views! Also, remember to book well in advance as tickets tend to sell out quite quickly.
The locomotive used for the Hogwarts Express in the actual films was the GWR 4900 Class 5972 Olton Hall. It is presently an exhibit on display in the Harry Potter Studio in Leavsden. The steam locomotive used for the the Jacobite steam train experience is similar to the one used in the films